How Trauma Affects the Body
Do we take time to think about taking a breath, digesting food, blinking, or beating our heart? Of course not!
The body’s built-in mechanisms and systems just do it automatically. Similarly, built in systems operate automatically during a trauma, without any conscious thought. Before the mind and emotions have a chance to respond and react, the perceived threat activates the sympathetic nervous system and built-in self protective mechanisms take over. Blood pressure and heart rate increase. Slow deep breathing shifts to rapid and shallow breathing , and muscles contract, in order to fight or run.
This fight or flight reaction, also known as the “stress response,” is triggered immediately and begins working to keep you safe and maintain stability. These biological processes are activated at the very moment when safety is threatened.
How does this stress response affect the body?
When the body is in stress mode, the human cells also go into stress mode. The cells close and become energy and oxygen deficient. Because your body needs additional resources and energy to endure unusual strain, our stress glands kick into high gear and flood the body with stress hormones, including adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol. These hormones are so helpful when reacting to immediate danger.
This automatic response to distress is miraculous, as these built -in mechanisms seem to know what to do to protect and help when danger is present.
If these systems are activated, your body is literally working on your behalf and functioning correctly – fascinating!
As helpful as the stress response may be during times of immediate danger, it can have negative effects long term. This is because the human stress response is designed to be a temporary reaction to our threatened safety. If the stress response signal within the body gets stuck, and the switch is left on, there could be profoundly negative effects on overall health and wellbeing. Organs, glands, and systems that are supposed to function regularly, get depleted by the enormous amount of energy it takes to facilitate the stress response and malfunctions will eventually occur.
I personally witnessed this trauma response, two summers ago when my mother experienced a very significant physical trauma.
My mother came to visit and was excited to watch her four granddaughters in their favorite sport, surfing. We made the perfect plan to spend a day at the beach, and found a perfect spot with a great view of the kids surfing. This plan instantaneously turned into a disaster, as my mom headed back to the car for her sunglasses, which she had supposedly left in the car. Somewhere along the rocky path back to the parking lot, my mom slipped, fell, and hit her head on on a rock. My family found her just sitting on the sand, staring at the ocean, and …
she had no idea where she was, or what had just happened.
She had a pretty good sized bruise on her face, yet she denied any sort of a fall, had no pain, and was adamant that she had not hit her head. I was shocked by the fact that my mother did not know why she was just sitting in the sand, and couldn’t remember a thing about walking back to the car.. As concerning as this was, I was watching her body protect itself. I was so thankful that she had no traumatic memory of falling, no pain, and seemed at peace and at rest. I took her into the urgent care, and the dr. validated my theory that she had indeed suffered a concussion. Not only did my mother hit her head hard enough to get a concussion, she also broke her wrist. This whole experience was more stressful for me, than it actually was for my mom. I was amazed at her instinct to just “check out,” from the whole experience, like nothing had happened.
Watching what my mom went through made me wonder about people involved in the natural disaster that happened in my hometown of Montecito. I am led to hope and believe that these victim’s stress response kicked in for them, as well, and they were protected from pain and the horrifying reality that was happening.
So, what can you do?
If you have experienced any form of physical or emotional trauma, the physiological processes keeping the body in trauma mode, may need to attention.
That stress response must be turned off. It is important to flip the switch off and reset the danger alert signal, keeping you in “threat/protection” mode. I recommend looking into holistic methods for releasing trauma. Many modalities are available for this, and it may be necessary to do all of them.
- The use of essential oils, are known to aid the body in shifting out of the trauma state. I suggest, Custom Blend Aromatherapy. This can be scheduled at Springs Wellness Center – https://myps.io/book/springs-wellness-center – to get a custom essential oil blend.
- Specific musical tones may significantly help the body recover, reset, and neutralize the stress of trauma. I recommend a music collection by Michael Tyrrell, called Wholetones. There are free samples available on YouTube.
- I personally use a magnetic release technique, included in my wellness sessions, in which a magnet is run along the nervous system, to release the negative resonant frequency. Once the trauma signal is reset, the body is allowed to rest and return to its normal state of functioning. See my contact page to set up a free consultation.
- Pray – this step is the most important, as it will empower all the above efforts to have a greater impact. Say a true prayer from your heart, that your body’s stress switch be turned off, for your body to return to its original state of functioning, and everything related to your traumatic experience, be healed and filled with the love of God.
Join me next week for more insight on how trauma affects the mind, and learn what you can do.
It”s hard to believe just 1 year ago, at this time, all residents of my community, were evacuated, due to the largest fire in California’s history. Nothing could have prepared us for the devastation that followed.
The Jan. 9th mudslide/debris flow was indeed a traumatic event.